Keep it Clean, Keep it Neat, Keep it Dainty
Back in the day, these were the rules of "clean vaudeville", the phrase that separated the respectable acts you could bring your sweetheart to, without causing embarrassment or seeing anything to lewd or shocking. I heard the phrase today, as I'm listening to American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee, on cd as I jaunt about town. I've had a copy of it since it came out, as I've always found that period of history, and the history of burlesque entertainment kind of fascinating. And Gypsy herself is such a mystery, hidden by the persona she created and which much of the population takes as fact, if they've even heard of the musical Gypsy, which you can't take for granted anymore that they have. Anyway, I happened upon an audio copy in the library, and it's currently keeping me company. I'm determined to use the phrase "keep it clean, keep it neat, keep it dainty" in something. Either as my personal ironic motto, or in some piece of fiction of play. We'll see.
The other things I'm filling my head with these days...
1. Once Upon A Time on ABC. I can't help myself. I know it's trite, toothless, and half hazzardly written, like some hodge-podge piece that sticks any magical component wherever it pleases, whether it's stylistically appropriate or not, and lumps Frankenstein, Mulan, Robin Hood, and King Arthur and His Knights right along with all the other fairy tales, as the whim suits them. In this way it's not unlike another show that I hate watched for awhile, Glee. But instead of changing the plot with no concern for reason, or plot or character drives to insert the musical number they want, the writer's do the same to justify the inclusion of a particular character or fairy tale component. Feel like sticking the little mermaid in the show? Well, what if she lived in Neverland? Cool. There ya go. I also can't stand the way they take the Disney version of these stories as gospel, which totally removes any edge from the stories they may have once had. And the sets! Most of them are green screened and the characters are blatantly painted in, making what I assume to be a pretty high budget show to look cheap. And yet, I keep watching because fairy tales are my crack.
2. Master Chef Junior. Oh lord, I can't help myself! The kids are just so damned cute, and earnest and hard working, and they're are making shit like layer cakes and Beef Wellington! And the judges are so sweet to them, molding these little young minds and giving them lots of affirmation (and yet, we the audience can tell when they've royally fucked up, through the coded language). Even Gordon Ramsay is less of the raging asshole I usually find him to be, and will help the kids out if they get themselves into a real pickle. But overall, the talent and knowledge and heart of these 10-13 year olds is what keeps me watching. They are inspiring, no matter your age, and no matter how tired you may be of competition shows. Thanks to Kirky G for the recommendation!
3. Night Film by Marisha Pessl. I've coveted it this unique and creepy novel for awhile, and was recently gifted it, and color me grateful. Just picking it up, perusing the pages, you can catch a full and complete world within. The paper quality is gorgeous, it just feels so good to pick it up and touch. And the story within is a haunting page turner perfect for Halloween. It's the story of a journalist who is looking into the apparent suicide of a beautiful young girl, the daughter of the reclusive filmmaker by the name of Cordova, who's films are so disturbing they are not available anywhere except in bootlegged versions and through underground viewing events. The book is full of screen caps of websites, and other documents and photos relative to the characters, and it perfectly enhances the feeling of getting engulfed in another world, albeit a dangerous one. There's also an online component which is loads of fun, but not necessary to the enjoyment. If you download the "Night Film app" to your phone or tablet you can scan photos in the book which link to additional content, including audio interviews with the characters, movie posters from Cordova's filmography, and lots of other hidden treats I'll leave it to you to discover. I'm about a third of the way, and addicted.
4. Mad Monster Party. This Rankin and Bass film was a favorite of mine as a kid, as it appeared often on television, and was done in the "Animagic" style like Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, and The Year Without A Santa Claus. It's a parody of and homage to the Universal monster movies of the thirties and though it was originally billed as kid's fare it's peppered with adult humor and in-jokes including vocal performances by Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller, as well as some great vocal impersonations of Jimmy Stewart, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, and Charles Laughton. It also features a very James Bondesque sixties mod theme song performed by Ethel Ennis, and of course, my favorite character from the film is the red headed bombshell assistant to Baron von Frankenstein, Francesska. who sounds like Kathleen Turner and looks like a precursor to Jessica Rabbit.
If you've got any opinions on these works, recommendations for great Halloween viewing, or other thoughts, I'd love to hear them...